Monday, May 4, 2009


My 22-month old daughter has learned how to get a record onto the turntable and start it.  Of course, yesterday she tried to put a cassette tape on the turntable, so she still has plenty to learn.  I have a few old 45’s that are pretty beaten up, so I let her experiment with them.  Once the music starts, she quickly communicates her endorsement or critical disappointment, with the latter typically displayed by a guttural noise akin to a cat trying to hack up a hairball.  I blame her mother.  However, she expresses her approval by doing a strange dance – bending her arms at the elbows, swaying them, and bouncing around.  Again, I blame her mother.  Or at least I’d like to, but I am pretty sure she is doing a pretty spot-on portrayal of her dancing father.  And of course you can't help but dance around the room with her, imitating her dancing style, which likely results in a vicious positive-feedback loop.  But I guess middle-school dances are a long way off.

So far she has given the hair-ball-wretch review to singles by Crosby, Stills, and Nash (who can blame her really?), David Bowie, and Emerson Lake and Palmer.  However, she dances like crazy to Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”  Again, I blame her mother. 

A couple days ago, I put Charles Lloyd’s “Forest Flower” LP on the turntable.  I’ve listened to this album several times after picking it up in the used bin a couple years ago, finding it pleasant but not particularly moving.  However, I stumbled into a really positive review of it recently so I decided to give it another chance.  I was working on other things, so admittedly it didn’t have all of my focus, but I was really surprised at how much I was enjoying it.  I didn’t remember the driving energy and passion of this album!  How did I miss this!  Then the announcer came on at the end of the record, with a voice like Alvin the Chipmunk.  This time, I blame my daughter.  Yes, I played the entire record at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm, because that is where the setting was left after the last "Black Dog" dancing session.  I listened to a bit more of the Charles Lloyd record at normal speed and it is much less exciting.  If you have a copy of this album, definitely give it a spin at 45 rpm. 

Anyway, I actually have been listening to quite a bit more than bad Crosby, Stills and Nash, vinyl-pop laden takes of “Black Dog,” and hopped-up Charles Lloyd.  Although I haven’t had time to post on this blog for a couple months, I have had plenty of time for free jazz, so that brings me back to Ayler….

In the fall of 2006 I noticed “Vibrations” available for download at the Itunes store for around 6 dollars.  The availability and price surprised me and given that the “money was (still) not strong enough,” for the real thing I purchased the download.  Albert Ayler, Gary Peacock, Sunny Murray, and Don Cherry….six dollars well spent.  Someday I’ll get the CD or the vinyl. 

Albert Ayler, Vibrations

Freedom (among others), 1964

Albert Ayler:  alto and tenor saxophones

Don Cherry:  trumpet

Gary Peacock:  bass

Sunny Murray:  drums

“Vibrations” was recorded in Denmark on September 14, 1964, about two months after “Spiritual Unity” and “New York Eye and Ear Control.”  Don Cherry joins the Spiritual Unity trio and the result is an exhilarating, fast-paced, free-for-all frolic, structured by the repetitive simple melodies so associated with Albert.  At least for me, the emotional feel of the album is not quite as varied as the previous albums of 1964, and I think this is mostly because Don Cherry’s trumpet adds a bright and upbeat quality to the music – even when Albert seems to be taking things to deeper and darker emotional places.  The album is must-have for any Ayler collection, and not a bad place for the uninitiated to begin.  Get it.  Play it.  Maybe even play at 45 rpm.  You can blame me.   

Buy it at Amazon

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